"head west, get to the coast, and follow it down"

The Normandy Landing

The van was finished, the mess had been cleaned up, the exhaustive list of items double checked. There was only one thing for it, to head to France. Shit. Shit. This is actually happening.. Portsmouth to Cean was the selected escape. This minimised the amount of motorway driving and thus risk of being questioned by the police and having to explain why my 6month temporary import was 12months overdue.

queuing for the ferry
on the ferry

Disembarking from the ferry I had my mountain of paperwork at the ready and was prepared for a 6+ hour border crossing reminiscent of Terehova. Much to my relief the exchange with the port official was very limited.

port search

“You're not Russian”
“Nope, you sound disappointed”
“No just confused”

And with that I collected a stamp and was waved through, critically with no importation documentation. My ferry ticket now resides in the front of my passport, the only means of defence should a bored cop pull me over.

cormorants on buoy

I arrived in France with exactly zero idea of where I was heading, what I wanted to visit, or where I was going to sleep. Luckily France is the perfect country to ease into life on the road. Most towns, particularly in Normandy and Britany, have “Aires”. What classifies as an Aire is quite broad, it can range from a small corner of a field at the edge of town to a perfectly flat carpark with spaces large enough for the biggest behemoth caravans. The services too vary wildly from none (as you would expect from a field) to complete washrooms with Wifi. Typically those with more extravagant services charge, and it can be as much as 20 euro/night. These are guarded by a barrier gate that only opens with your credit card. Although the security at the front might be high, if one were so inclined, the perimeter fence typically is only a concrete curb 20-30cm high easily traversable with suitable ground clearance. Wifi access can be achieved by chatting with your fellow paying campers.

phacelia fields

I don't think one can in good faith be in Normandy without visiting any of the memorials. Personally, I would thoroughly recommend the British memorial, a far less busy, modest tribute nestled in fields of endless purple phacelia. Fields now alive with impossibly numerous butterflies and bees.

sherman at Juno
flag lowering flag lowering2
crosses and star of david

Hogwarts by the sea

After devising the meticulous plan of; head west, get to the coast, and follow it down. I found myself setup in a free aire, a large open field, on the Sélune estuary overlooking Mont Saint-Michel. The aire was populated with the normal clientele, large white mobile homes and their middle-aged plus inhabitants. However, in a corner tucked away was an anomaly, a cluster of vans. Immediately I knew I was in good hands for the evening judging by the proportion of dreads within the predominantly white group.

Mont St Michel from distance
Mont St Michel close Street inside the Mont

The Mont itself is far more densely constructed and perhaps more impressive than its UK counterpart. I should say I have no idea what the inside of the cathedral looks like as I, and many other bewildered tourists, deemed the contents to be far less valuable than 20 euro.

Whilst I'm on the topic of other Mont Saint-Michel's, I was recently made aware of “Saint Michael's Line”, the straight line between 7 different Saint Micheal monasteries spanning the entire of Europe. Perhaps it's time to put on my tin foil hat and phone the expert, Uncle Steven!

Before you dive into Googling the divine implications of this alignment I'll leave you with perhaps the most French thing I have seen.

Baguette vending machine

Tills nästa gång. Hejdå.